On Friday, the US issued penalties against two Haitian lawmakers who are allegedly involved in drug trafficking.
Financial penalties were imposed by the US Treasury Department against Youri Latortue, a former senator from Haiti, and Joseph Lambert, “the current President of the Haitian Senate (who) has held political roles in Haiti for 20 years.”
Additionally, Lambert and his wife were subject to visa sanctions by the State Department, making it generally impossible for them to enter the US.
The government of Haiti, headed by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, has requested aid from the international community as the country struggles with security and humanitarian challenges.
The Treasury Department on Friday announced financial sanctions against two politicians who “have abused their official positions to traffic drugs and collaborated with criminal and gang networks to undermine the rule of law in Haiti,” according to a statement from Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson.
Lambert “used his position to lead and support the trafficking of cocaine from Colombia to Haiti and to facilitate impunity in Haiti for other drug traffickers,” the statement claims.
It stated that “Lambert has also given orders to others to use violence on his behalf.” His narcotics trafficking, dishonest business practises, and persistent contempt for the law have all contributed to Haiti’s ongoing instability.
According to the announcement, Latortue “has also had extensive involvement in narcotics trafficking activities.” “Latortue has smuggled cocaine from Colombia to Haiti and given orders for others to use violence on his behalf,” the statement reads.
In a second statement announcing the visa bans, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that “there is credible information of Lambert’s involvement in a flagrant violation of human rights, notably an extrajudicial death,”
The charges were vigorously refuted by Latortue, who tweeted on Friday: “Drugs: Never! I’m against gangs! Laundering: Through a number of public reports, I challenged corruption and laundering. Violence: Pay attention to my speeches that say the opposite! Trafficking in weapons Lies! No legal procedure! Avoid conflict!
To his loved ones, friends, and supporters, he added, “I will defend myself with the law and the truth.
Lambert has been contacted by HEADLINESFOREVER for comment.
In an event with Melanie Joly, Canada’s foreign minister, last week in Montreal, Blinken gave a preview of upcoming penalties. US officials have spoken out about the situation in Haiti on the ground.
“We have a limited number of gangs that are in charge of access to everything that is required to address the issue, the issues that the Haitian people are suffering. The government has no control over anything, and the elites are in charge of supporting and guiding them. Therefore, when the ports and the roads are blocked by these gangs and by the elites controlling them, people need access to clean water and medication. This is why we will impose sanctions in concert to put pressure on the elites controlling the gangs, he said.
Recent weeks saw the adoption by the UN of a security council resolution to sanction Haitian criminal leaders that was put forth by the US and Mexico.
According to US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US and Mexico have also supported a different resolution that would establish “a limited, carefully scoped, non-U.N. mission led by a partner country with the deep, requisite experience required for such an operation to be effective.”
The possibility of a military intervention has encountered opposition, and no country has yet been named to spearhead that mission.